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#83 Not Moving Out

Posted July 23rd, 2008 by Peter · 47 Comments

That Guy asks: Why should you move out at 18? you can just stay at home with your mom and and dad and live cheaply. Heck why move out at all? I know of some who live into their 30′s with their parents. Perhaps in the white people world that is awkward, but in the asian community, it is just normal and accepted.

When you ask somebody if they have children, you’re probably expecting an answer along the lines of, “Oh yes… Timmy’s the cutest little 3 year old you’ve ever seen,” or, “My daughter can say ‘baba’ and ‘mama’ ” Ask an Asian person the same thing, and they can spend hours highlighting their little toddler’s accomplishments (with the comprehension level of a 5 year old) or their 24 year old (on a full ride scholarship to Harvard) hardships in life. Heck, Asian parents might even babble over their 30-something year old grown-up “children.” Why is there no shame in this?

To many non-asian cultures, living at home is a common and healthy practice because there is no need for a sense of individuality and self-reliance. In Western Culture, where every child is made to believe that they can become rock stars or sports sensations, individualism thrives. In fact, living at home is a strange and embarrassing situation that can usually leave one’s parents’ parenting to question. Not for Asians, though.

To those of you that scoff at a 30 year old asian man living with their parents, I pose these questions: Why is it that in Western Culture, children must move out upon entering college (around 18 years of age)? Conversely, why is it okay for Asian children to continue to live with their parents until around the time they’re married; Or in some cases, even after they’re married?

This discrepancy can be explained by differences in rearing. For over a millennium, parents have allowed their children to share the same beds. This fostered healthy parental attachment (in the form of maternal warmth), ease of breast-feeding for both parties, as well as a sense of security not offered by a “blankie” or stuffed animal. In recent years, however, due to alarming studies showing that under 1% of infants are killed in “rolling over” incidents (as opposed to the 4-5% killed annually in baby crib accidents), the nurturing practice we have come to recognize as “co-sleeping” has earned quite a bad rap.

Luckily for non-Western culture, and subsequently Asian Culture, the practice of co-sleeping is still quite popular. Let’s not forget that without parental attachment, children seek other forms of security such as pacifiers or expensive baby toys. Isn’t it strange that many of those alarming findings were reported by toddler toy manufacturers and their constituents? Isn’t it likewise strange that Asian children are very respectful to their parents and care a great deal for them? Isn’t is alarmingly strange that I haven’t been able to lose those 15 pounds that I gained on vacation last summer? Isn’t it? You tell me.

The parental attachment and nourishment offered, however, is only one of the reasons why Asians don’t move out. The other, as you could’ve guessed, is in fact money. “When people move out, they are left to fend for themselves in a dog-eat-dog world,” says author Vicki Tan. “How do you survive in an expensive city such as London or New York City? Do you swallow your pride and live with your parents? Or do you live in a dingy area and bear with it?

In Asia, where land is sometimes scarce (no matter how odd that may sound), the cost of living can rise very quickly. A similar situation is occurring in the states, and because most Asians can in fact swallow their pride, they choose to live with their parents. There are many quirks of having mom and dad around that you’ve probably overlooked. Here are a few: free catering, laundry service, baby-sitting, language tutor, moral guidance, gardener, teacher, adviser, counselor, and supporter (not the athletic type) … must I go on?

Mmm… Look at all those rice patties, mom!

In Western Culture, the media and evil corporations have taken the only thing that we have always had away from us, our ability to raise children. They offer advice that usually makes them more money. They give children false hopes. They make us fear the worse. In Asian Culture, these ideas are highly farfetched. Due to practices such as co-sleeping, asians are able to raise well-mannered children that have been given the proper attention from a young age.

In turn, many Asians live with their parents until they get married; some people still live with their parents even after getting married. This is because Asians are usually more family-oriented and they would save money when they live with their parents. Therefore, it is acceptable for an older person to be living with their parents, no matter how old; which means Not Moving Out is a very, intelligent, move for Asians around the world.


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Tags: Activities · Culture · Customs · Environment · Habits · History · People · Relationships · Social · Tidbits

47 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Fox // Jul 23, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    I know that many Italians stay with their parents and don’t move out until after college or even marriage. So, this moving out thing is not universal in ‘Western’ culture.

  • 2 asiankida // Jul 23, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    [...] All right, I admit it this pretty much describes me. “I know of some who live into their 30′s with their parents. [...]

  • 3 Derek // Jul 23, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    Not asian, and I’m still living with my parents at 27. Whee!

  • 4 YASPy Chick // Jul 24, 2008 at 7:21 am

    Fox is right. Moving out by age 25 is NOT just an Asian thing, but a non-Anglo thing. My parents are totally ok with me living at home as an adult, but I yearn to leave. Is that normal? My goal is to be gone by age 30. That’s about a year away!

    Also, I don’t know any Anglo white kid who moved out after high school and stayed out. Most came home after university to stay for a few years. Most were gone by age 25, unless they were like me – in graduate or professional (law or med) school.

  • 5 YvesPaul // Jul 24, 2008 at 8:44 am

    I think the social phenomenon is not entirely one dimensional. For the parents, having their children living with them is also their retirement plan. Like you have stated, western culture encourages independence and self-reliance. Parents are supposed to take care of you until college years and then they are push out to fend for themselves while the parents still work or invest or mortgage their house to support themselves for the rest of their lives. While in Asian cultures, the children are suppose to work and earn a living to support themselves and their parents. Hence even after you get married you will still live with your parents, and that’s also the reason why the Chinese tends to love having sons instead of daughters.

    So it is not really a matter of What Asian People Love. For myself, I rather not have the burden of providing for my parents. It is a lot of pressure especially when the economy is bad, if I lose my job does it mean that my whole family have to starve? You see a lot of people who immigrate to the States or other countries still send money home even thought they don’t live with their family anymore. So in my point of view, it has less to do with the kids not willing to move out but it has more to do with Asians being more of a codependent culture.

  • 6 Toby // Jul 24, 2008 at 8:48 am

    When caucasian kids reach 18 or graduate from university, their parents expect them to move out. Asian parents expect their children to live with them until they get married. This is the norm. If you move out before you are married, you are seen as “weird” or there is something wrong with the home life. Asian parents don’t understand that you want to be more independent. I am moving out this September to be closer to work and my mom doesn’t understand why I would want to spend so much $$ on rent whereas I can stay home and save $$.

  • 7 Peter // Jul 24, 2008 at 11:56 am

    I couldn’t agree more!

  • 8 Bob // Jul 25, 2008 at 2:26 am

    I am Asian and am 30 now but had to move out at 17 because there were no schools in my area. When you instill the right values in your children, you should have no worries about them. Don’t spoil or support them financially in any way, but give them principles to live by. Set them free into the world to experience its harsh realities. The weak will come back home, but the ones that don’t usually unknowingly achieve great things and live up expectations. My mom who is in her late 70′s, is always asked by her other Cantonese friends, “How can I raise my children to become surgeons like yours?” and my mom says, “Tell them that you don’t care what they become! Tell them that whatever choice they make is their own but that they have to live with it. Then, set them free and cross your fingers that they make the right choice.” In almost every case, the kids will grow up to become very successful in some kind of way.

  • 9 Roxy // Jul 25, 2008 at 6:56 am

    Rings very true! And not only does it happen, but it’s encouraged! My mom doesn’t want me to move out until I’m good and ripe for the real world, no matter how long it takes.

    On the flip side, my parents raised me to be an independent person from day one. So although they offer the neverending support of living with them, I’m well equipped to make that decision on my own.

    And it saves me money, so why the heck not? Although culturally, it’s probably not the most accepted practice, when it comes down to the nitty gritty with finances… I say, save money and stay with the parentals!

  • 10 randomdreamer // Jul 25, 2008 at 6:58 am

    I’m Asian & didn’t move out until my late 20′s, when I got engaged.

    In Asia it’s very typical for adults to live with their parents – mostly out of necessity. In the U.S. a young couple with dual income can more realistically afford to buy their own place (without financial help from parents). You can’t say the same about most of the major cities in Asia.

    Also I’m starting to know more young Anglos who live at home. With today’s economy, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the trend.

  • 11 asdf // Jul 25, 2008 at 11:51 am

    in the U.S., most people see adults living with their parents as a last resort, as in they are broke and can’t afford their own place. for asians, people stay at home until they get married. and i agree with toby, those who don’t give the impression that there is something wrong with their home life. some asians don’t understand this concept of “privacy” or “personal space.” it’s very common for people to walk into other people’s rooms and rummage around. even though most people to move out for this reason, asians don’t see this as a valid excuse and there must be something more serious going on.

  • 12 Sol // Jul 27, 2008 at 4:37 am

    I agree with the article, and yes I’m Asian (Malaysian to be exact). I’m 19, and will not move out until I have to fly over to KL to pursue my degree in two years’ time. I’ve co-slept with my parents and my siblings, and sometimes still do, especially when we run out of bed to sleep on when guests come over. And yes, I definitely agree on feeling secure.

    However not moving out even when one is a working adult has its benefits, besides saving one’s own money. Child and parents can share their incomes and allowances, thus providing a secure financial environment. Besides maintaining a close parents-child bond, the child is also there to take care of the parents should any of them fall sick.

    I must say most Asians I know move out when they’re married, and it’s usually a case of the parents MOVING IN sometime later.

  • 13 YASPy Chick // Jul 27, 2008 at 11:02 am


    There’s a dif between Asians in Asia and Asians who have lived abroad. We aren’t culturally the same. Similar, but not the same. I would die if I had to live with the rents until I’m married!

  • 14 B.H. // Jul 27, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    Good one, Peter.

    I think for people in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc., land is scarce and housing rates are high. Why not live at home? The stigma isn’t as glaring as it is in the States.

    Nigel Lim.

  • 15 Rama!³n // Jul 27, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    In traditional Latin homes it’s considered an insult to the parents to leave the home early, and worse still; it says to outsiders that there is something wrong with the family.

  • 16 jiamei // Jul 31, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    I’m moving out this fall for college. My parents tried to convince me to live at home and just drive to school everyday but I kept arguing back that gas is too expensive and the trip would be too much. I really want out.

    My cousin lived with her parents until she was 23 and engaged. Her friends thought it was weird that she already had a good job but was still living with my aunt.

    Even if I do move out or marry…my parents would just drag me back home taking my husband with me so that I can take care of them…

  • 17 sfsinger // Aug 11, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    I think equating co-sleeping and parental respect with then living with your parents into adulthood is problematic. I was a psych minor and due to psychological research showing that co-sleeping is better for babies, co-sleeping is *rising * in popularity in the U.S. (I slept in the same room as my parents, my older sister co-slept with her kids. I was still out the door for college when I was 18. I went home during breaks, but never moved back in. Similarly, whenever I have kids, I intend to do co-sleeping, but they’ll be strongly encouraged to get their butts out when they reach college age. I’ll still help them and support them as much as I can, but I really valued my time leaving home.
    I’m in an inter-racial relationship with a Chinese-American boy, and my staunch autonomy vs his living with his ‘rents is one of the things that’s hardest for us to really understand about each other. I’m aware that in much of the world people live with their parents a lot longer, and that’s fine, I just don’t think it’s fair to condemn “independence” itself, it’s just when it’s taken to an extreme that it gets rediculous. Technically, I’m not even anglo, my dad is eastern european, and there’s actually a lot more diversity in the choices “white americans” make than is often realized I think.

  • 18 spacebunny // Aug 21, 2008 at 11:10 am

    My filipina mother is overbearing so I had to make a break for it when I was 20. If she hadn’t been so controlling and abusive I probably would have sucked it up a little while longer to save money. My father was white (he died when I was baby). My father’s relatives were always trying to Americanize my mother and they often criticized her for her filipina ways such as when they found out I was still “co-sleeping” when I was 6. I used to admire my American relatives but now I realize they probably should have butted out and not questioned my mother’s parenting skills so often.

  • 19 momo // Aug 25, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    Asians don’t move out, we just gradually take over. :)

    One thing I always found interesting was that with my Anglo friends, they’d refer to their family home as “my parents’ house” rather than “my house”. There’s an expectation that you are supposed to leave and have your own place. Another thing that absolutely bowled me over was that if they did stuff around the family home, they’d get PAID for it, especially if it was a job that you might hire someone to do (like fixing the roof).

  • 20 paleface // Sep 5, 2008 at 10:57 am

    I think a lot of “cultural” things are often influenced by economic forces: a country like Korea or Japan just doesn’t have much space per capita, so the price of space is higher. People can’t afford to live on their own, so society must come to grips with the situation.
    And I wasn’t aware that 4-5% of infants die each year in crib incidents :) I think I’d be better off stashing my kid on the roof!

  • 21 yakspeaks // Sep 26, 2008 at 8:09 am

    I don’t see why more people do not tend to due it. Though I didn’t do this myself due to traveling, I wish I did to save money and hassle.

  • 22 Pizzaman // Oct 2, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Well sometimes it is makes more financial sense. Like I live with my parents, because I am saving some money up for a down payment on property. Once i get the property, (within a year) i’m moving out and possibly getting a roommate. Independance have different parts, just because you live on your own in some apartment but can’t take care of your crap, doesn’t mean you are capabale of being independent. You can live at home, still handle your finances, pay the bills, maintain a nice car… a capable person is not determined on where he lives, but how he lives his life.

  • 23 Pizzaman // Oct 2, 2008 at 10:56 am

    And plus, you’re a grown person now… help out your parents a bit. Sure you don’t have to pay rent that is excessive, but less than you would normally… at least you are helping your own family and saving money at the same time. Then you get a house while other “independent” people struggle to live in their apartment for another month. ya SUCCESS

  • 24 The Restaurant Owner // Oct 26, 2008 at 10:07 am


    As an Asian person who is still iving at homw ith my parents I think I could provide some further insight. Many Asian people I know were working class immigrants with little or no education and worked when they arived in western countries with the intention to be good citizens, but also make money. The idea that the whole point of being somehwhere is to make money and improve prospects was often filtered down to children since the parents did not understand the whole western liberal life, not because they didn’t want to but because they were not brought up that way, and they struggled with money and felt that they had other problems to worry about, and the children were always reminded that they must work and suport the family so from a very young age they never dreamed of being independent from the family and all their attempts to express their individuality meant doing something that was invariably viewed as being radical. This may sound strange but when I was young and I would ask a fellow Asian school kid what his opinion on something was he or she would struggle or feel surprised that there opinions mattered since they sually eithe did just what their parents said or had their minds made up for them, and they were sometimes at a loss because they hadn’t even considered that their opinion mattered. There are many people like that still around, even in their late 20s or 40s! I think most people live with their parents because the parents need them and in a lot of cases they have no choice, with few outside asociations and little security. Being independent can sometimes appear to be a rebellious step and can lead to one being ostracised, and usually it is only an option for Asian Children whose parents are middle or upper class, which is my point. This is really a class issue, and an economical one. When kids stay at home for more than what would be considered normal for Western Caucasian families, it is only the norm for Asian’s and it is not shameful because there is an implicit understanding between people living in the communities living in the same circumstances. The idea is that the family supports each other, and if someone becomes very rich or if the family prospers, you will see that they sprout the same wings of independence and will do so with greater confidence because when the circumstances improve enough for the m to leave, it usually means there is enugh security and comfort, and greater sense of achievement because you beat your circumstances and left against the odds. I think people are always looking for a way out, and sometimes that’s a good job (enough money = a home of one’s own and money for the olds so they don’t whinge), or marriage (necessitating an exit). There is a lot of things that white caucasian populations will never understand, somethings are transmitted wordlessly and are semantically implicit. If one reads WalterBenjamin, he alludes to the nameless words, that which is hidden and is central to consciuosness and existence. Since these things can never be reconciled, people who livein different circumstances, conditions or environments can never understand, and rather than trying, people argue over whose way it is better. If only people could try and learn, without judgement humaity may get somewhere. These issues are very complex, and more Asian people need to appear on theis forum and rovide their perspectives.
    Peace to all!!

  • 25 Brady // Nov 14, 2008 at 2:16 am

    I think staying with your parents for a certain period of time is good. However, there has to be a time for a person to become independent, and to move out and live on your own is that right time.

  • 26 Vladimir // Dec 3, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    I would like to say that Western individualism, values, “morals”, etc. are not practiced and acknowledged by all “white” peoples. I am Russian, in West we are classified racically as “white”, I have blonde hair and what they call “white” appearance, so I suppose we are “white” to them… Our culture is one of VERY collectivist nature and in many regards is socially far more similar to “Asiatic” cultures than to any Western ones. Most of us live with parents until we are married and for some afterwards. As a Russian (and apparently “white” person) I must say, in all honesty, Western individualism is one of lowest concepts I know of. I believe that their concept of “individualism” permeates very wide range of social elements present within their society and accounts for great number of their social problems, arrogance, and endless list of things I have not time to list here… If I had to list only 3 social/political aspects of Western culture that I hate very most and find most repulsive, individualism would be in this list somewhere.

  • 27 glui2001 // Dec 5, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    I was 22 when telling my parents that I was gonna move out. They kinda flipped out and try to coerce me into staying. Giving the same reasons as this article states.

    I was pretty firm about moving out and eventually my parents knew that they couldn’t stop me from moving out.

  • 28 Shannon // Dec 18, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    I want to leave my parents A.S.A.P.

    I mean, I love ‘em, but let’s be serious. If I have money when I’m 18, ZOOOOOOOOOOM!

    No, not Asian, sorry.

  • 29 Male of the White Heredity // Dec 21, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    “To many non-asian cultures, living at home is a common and healthy practice…”

    should read

    “To many Asian cultures, living at home is a common and healthy practice…”


    Male of the White Heredity

  • 30 J // Jan 31, 2009 at 12:08 am

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with living at home until you feel you should move out. Save money, share resources. Why must it be that to have “independence” it is required that you must move out. Get a good job, pay no rent, pay no money for food.

  • 31 A // Feb 8, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    There are waaaaaaay too many kids moving out and trying to be \independent\, yet Mommy & Daddy still pay for EVERYTHING (rent, food, weekly allowance), including school… really, what’s the difference???

  • 32 Richard // Feb 19, 2009 at 10:06 am

    I’m 19 and moving out soon in May since I’m joining the Navy. And yes I’m Azn you dont have to be from a white family to leave it’s your own choice!!!

  • 33 Rajive // Apr 2, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    I was 15 when I left my New Jersey home on scholarship to live in New Zealand for a year in HS. Although both my parents recognized my need to get out of the boring town I lived in, my dad (Indian) was more encouraging. I found out many years later from my Mom (White) that she cried for a week after I left. For me, that year was a crucial one in my development. I’ve since traveled extensively and I have no phobia of being alone for extended periods of time, which is something that many sheltered people are very afraid of.

  • 34 asian-am female // May 17, 2009 at 11:52 am

    I had a friend who’s asian who lived with his parents until he was married. But he had a good job and paid his parent’s mortgage and eventually bought them the house. Isn’t that the more adult thing to do?

  • 35 Intercultural Marriage | SassyCat // May 21, 2009 at 11:23 am

    [...] both China and Vietnam, intergenerational housing is becoming a thing of the past).  Actually the housing issue is a serious one that we’ll probably always struggle [...]

  • 36 sarah // Oct 27, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    most important point: how do you fuck in your parents’ house????

    and how do you face them after they have clearly heard you?

    no shame?

  • 37 Anonymous // Nov 7, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    I certainly agree that asian people lives on thier parents even they already married. This scenario put the individuals to be lazy to work and can influence the young generation.It general there would be a chain of cultural imitations from one person to person. This result to poor vision in life of a persons future. A person should learned to stand himself in order he has a use of what he is. For example, if the person keep staying to his parents , his natural skills wouldn’t be discovered that he is good for some other things. Thus, forcing the person to go out from the parents house, It pushes the person to show his talents of what he is meant to be in this world.

  • 38 Angela // Feb 14, 2010 at 6:59 am

    I am African-American and that is true of us. I left home when I was twenty-five. Now, I live down the street from my from my family. I didn’t go far. I was also the last child living at home. My mother would give me tons of reasons why I should not leave home early. She said “because Your a girl.” We have extended families as well. Sometimes, my family are over involved.

  • 39 Eve // Feb 16, 2011 at 12:29 am

    Which is precisely why so many “children” are more than happy to stay home, bumming money off of their parents. It’s an older custom that needs to be thrown out as it’s only contributing further to laziness especially among young men who should be finding their own paths to take instead of relying on the goodwill and hard earned cash of their first generation parents.

  • 40 Natalia // Mar 11, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    Sarah – word! I do not live with my parents, and I moved out before 18, but I did date a guy once who was older and living with his conservative non-American parents, and they would clearly hear us whenever we boned (which was at least twice a day). Very awkward but at least they knew I was keeping their son happy!
    And I definitely hear what Vladimir and Angela are saying – I am not Asian, but I am not a white American either (in fact, I’m Russian, too). I’ve lived all over the US and in Europe, and I definitely do not think that the idea of moving out of your parents’ house at 18 is a “white” or “Western” concept, it’s simply “American”. When I lived in Europe, I knew many families that would have three generations all living under the same roof, and it’s not that uncommon in Europe or Asia at all. I’ve also often seen the same with African-American and Hispanic families as well, tons of living arrangements like Angela’s (I bet that your family – including aunts, uncles, cousins – gets together at least once a month, if not every Sunday after church). I don’t have concrete facts at hand to back it up, just my prior experiences, knowledge, and things I recall reading/learning about, but I believe it’s simply because family values, connections, and loyalty are not as strong in white American culture as they are in Asian, African, European, or Latin American ones.
    (For the record, I moved out to attend college 3000 miles away from where my parents lived and have never moved back, though the decision to move so far away was to get away from the scumbags I grew up around, not my parents!)

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  • 42 confused // Sep 1, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Fortunately was able to move back after a brief career disaster. However, this blog didn’t take into account situations where parents are divorced and where siblings are high-earners, have moved out, and now are condescending towards the kid who moved back to one parent.

  • 43 Mr. Duby // Apr 18, 2012 at 11:53 am

    My mom says I have to live with her until she dies….

  • 44 Catherine // Nov 8, 2012 at 4:49 am

    Hey, just read all that. Have to disagree, nearly everything.
    My parents (Asian, from Hong Kong) living in Australia. They are like the communist party in my family. They literally dictate every move I make, every decision I choose. I had to take literally 6 years in my high school life to fail everything just so they could give up convincing me to become a lawyer, business director, doctor, engineer etc. My poor sister (older) however had to bear it, she is a graphic illustrator by night but have to suffer my parents choice of being a engineer by day (hates her job). My parents finally opened their eyes that creative arts as a career isnt so bad after she won a competition.

    For the record, my parents definitely did not cater for us (either my sister or i did it), the laundry… we had to do our own, teacher… somewhat…. moral adviser????? A little outdated, my sister and I learned life the hard way…. trying out things behind their backs and coming home getting bashed.

    The only good thing is, they bought me a car, and pays for my stuff. Pay for everything. This though in turn makes me very useless compared to my friends, very spoiled…. and depended. I hate it. I wish i could move out on good terms with my parents, but i am uber sure my parents (mostly my dad) would not allow this, as either I am a girl, and it is too dangerous….

    strict parents means rebellious children :)

  • 45 Rachel Sou // Jul 30, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    I’m Asian and moved back him after graduating from Uni, and feel guilty for not helping pitch in around the house or paying bills due to my school loans and vehicle expenses. Do you have any advice and what should I do if my parents guilt trip me?

  • 46 Rachel Sou // Jul 30, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    I’m Asian and in need of an Asian husband.

  • 47 Trevor // Jun 9, 2017 at 10:51 am

    “The weak will come back home, but the ones that don’t usually unknowingly achieve great things and live up expectations.”

    So what your saying Bob the ones that move back home are weak and are losers. You know their are lots of good reasons why people move back home and it doesn’t mean their weak.

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